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Divination >> Rune Stones
elder futhark, anglo saxon, work rewards, library and information science


Author: Jordsvin
Reprinted from "Rainbow Wind" Magazine

Welcome again to my "Rune-of-the-Month" Club! At the rate I've been going, it's been more like the "Rune-of-the-Year" Club, but I'll try to speed up the pace. This article puts the series over the halfway mark. This is the twelfth of the twenty-four Runes of the Elder Futhark, and with the Introduction to the series this makes thirteen of twenty-five articles. I'll let it rest then, having long since decided not to continue the series after the last Rune; rather, I refer the reader to the introductory article of this series, and to the links on my web page, both the Rune ones and the new Huginn and Muninn Asatru and Heathen Search Engine link, for further study.

Jera is the Rune of Harvest, and I'm experiencing that in my life right now. Despite the setback of having to drop a class due to illness (a minor blood sugar problem being controlled by diet and the worst allergies of my life); I'll be graduating with a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science in May. Jera is the reward reaped at the end of an ongoing project.

According to Thorr and Audrey Sheil, Jera in reconstructed Common Germanic becomes Ar in Old Norse, Ger in Anglo-Saxon (hence "year" in Modern English), and Jer in Gothic. It represents the "y" sound but is also used for "j" when writing modern languages with the Elder Futhark.

Jera, in addition to harvest and to its literal meaning, "year," also relates to expansion (in contrast to the standstill of Isa and the constriction of Nauthiz; note the position of these Runes in the Futhark), abundance, payments (note the connection with Fehu), fields (where the harvest grows), longer cycles of time (Dagaz embodies shorter cycles of time), patience (ask any farmer if patience is necessary in that line of work), rewards, and the seasons (a cycle over the course of the "year"). On a slightly darker note, it also indicates "payback," which can be good or bad, depending on what you "planted" to reap in the "payback." Some Christians are fond of quoting from their scriptures "as ye sow, so shall ye reap." The Jewish scriptures (and the Byrds) remind us that "there is a season" (turn, turn, turn). A season to plant, to harvest; to be born, to die... Pete Seeger may have been the one who adapted the passage from the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes for the Byrds' famous song, by the way; I said the Beatles did it all and was swiftly and multiply corrected; thanks folks! As for the ideas expressed in the Biblical passage, well, even the Monotheists are right every once in a while!

Jera is earned good. It is prudent investment, not a get-rich-quick scheme. Those are more likely to lead to Nauthiz than to Jera! While this Rune originally tied in with the cycle of the agricultural year, it has expanded (one of Jera's meanings, after all) to include other cycles. Businesses are on very different annual cycles. For a swimming pool owner, Jera comes in summer. For a Christmas tree farmer or merchant, Jera comes at Yuletide! Jera requires both hard work and wise planning. One of these by itself is not enough.

Jera follows natural time, not clock or calendar time. In addition to the already mentioned tie-ins with Fehu, Dagaz, Nauthiz, and Isa, the Sheils also link Jera with Raidho (another Rune of motion). Raidho rides around the circumference of Jera, carrying with it the heavenly bodies our forebears used to measure the passage of time. The Sheils describe how Divinity, as expressed in the Rune Ansuz is expressed both in the cycle of the year (Jera) and within the human being (Mannaz). Eihwaz, the Yew-Rune, which of course is the next Rune in the Futhark, is an axis on which Jera spins. Interestingly, Edred Thorsson says the same thing in his book on Runic Divination, At the Well of Wyrd. Here is one of the relatively few points where the Sheils agree with him!

All three Rune Poems which have come down to us have a verse for Jera. The Old English Rune Poem talks of "God" letting Earth give her fruits to Humanity. From the Heathen perspective, Ingvi Freyr, not Jehovah, is the REAL "Lord of the Harvest" (one of the names Jesus called his God). If you are wondering why for once there are parallels to the Jewish and Christian sacred writings, stop for a moment to notice that the ancient Jews, Jesus included, were peasants living far closer to the soil than most Jews and Christians living today; and still retained some of the old Pagan closeness to the Earth.

Both the Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme and the Old Icelandic Rune Poem refer to the profit of the harvest. The Old Icelandic Rune Poem speaks of "good summer" (in far northern climates, a freak summer frost could ruin the harvest) and "ripened fields." In those latitudes, the growing season was short, and there was little margin for error. A late or early frost could spell disaster, with no time (and perhaps no surplus grain) to replant. The Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme speaks of the generosity of Frodhi. According to Rudolf Simek's Dictionary of Northern Mythology, Frodhi was a legendary Danish King during whose reign there was great peace. In Northern thought, good harvest (Jera) and peace (frith) are closely connected. Wars do not facilitate good harvests. Think of the want and rationing that still go with wars today. Wars lead to destroyed or stolen crops and livestock and loss of vital workforce, just for starters. The Vikings, by the way, carefully timed their raids to fall between planting and harvest, so their farming would not suffer. Saxo mentions no less than five kings by the name of Frodhi (Frotho). Bonus question: where do you think J. R. R. Tolkien got the name of Bilbo Baggins' nephew, Frodo? Tolkien, a devout and very conservative Roman Catholic, is no doubt spinning (a function of Jera, naturally) in his grave over how much of a boost he unwittingly gave the revival of interest in Runes, Norse Heathen Mythology, etc. In section ten of the Ynglinga Saga, Frodhi is identified with (Ingvi) Freyr, a Norse nature and fertility God whose Rune of course is Ingwaz. It was considered great sacrilege to spill blood in Freyr's sacred fields and sanctuaries.

Let the careful study of the Rune Jera bring expanding good into your own life.

Special thanks to "Onkel Thorr" Sheil, my teacher, for giving his blessing to this series of articles. My Runework is essentially derived from his, interpreted through my own wide readings and stated in a way more intelligible to the "reconstructionist" Asatru community (the Sheils practice a household tradition). There are a number of links to their sites from my web page, and I encourage my readers to buy their excellent products. For good or ill :-) they, and their books, deserve a very considerable portion of the credit (or blame) for me becoming the Heathen I am today!

"Til ars ok fridhar" - Good harvests and Peace!

Works consulted: At the Well of Wyrd by Edred Thorsson, Dictionary of Northern Mythology by Rudolf Simek, and The Road to Bifrost Volume III, the Runes and Holy Signs, by Thorr and Audrey Sheil. All of these books are well worth owning.

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